Bagi has worked 17 years as a Sushi chef in Denver, Colorado. Then he went back home to Shimoda, a little relaxed sea side town on the japanese Izu peninsula. In the summer months tourists and surfers from Tokyo come here. But Japan doesn´t have a big beach culture, so Shimoda keeps on being an easy going place.
Now Bagi runs a little bar in Shimoda, where people come at night to have a drink and chat. When I came to his bar a Geisha was hanging out there. „After a hard day of work I come here to drink sake and chat with my old friend,“ she explained. The old friend Bagi is not a hardcore business man. With my friend I ended up having four beers, Bagi gave us snacks and made wonderful fresh Sushi and fried some sausage. When I asked him for the bill, he said: „1000 yen.“ About eight Euros. I told him, that could not be possible, that´s not enough. He was surpised and said: „Well, then make it 1500.“
The next day I came again. I asked him about his daughter and he showed me the way up to his little flat, where he was living with his mother. His daughter was having dinner with some friends. He sat me down on the floor and said: „Enjoy.“
Bagi usually always wears the same shirt. There´s „Bagifornia“ written on it – a combination of his name and California. „He used be a real good surfer here in Japan. He was competing and won a lot of stuff,“ his daughter told me. But when he went to live in Colorado there were mostly mountains around him. California was far away and just a dream. He printed those shirts to keep up some of the surfer spirit.
„Bagi, did you like the United States,“ I asked him, when he gave me some free sake.
„No,“ he said.
„Why didn´t you like it?“, I wanted to know.
Bagi paused for a while, then said: „Because there is no respect. In Japan you can lose respect by your behavior. But you start out getting respect from everybody. In the US it´s the other way round. Nobody respects you. Only if you achieve something.“
I find this explanation so much to the point.